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Work Pays America (Part II)


Published 1937
Topics New Deal: WPA


How the WPA's program of public works benefits both unemployed workers and American society.


Run time 15:01
Producer U.S. Work Projects Administration
Sponsor U.S. Work Projects Administration
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W

Shotlist

Sings the praises of the WPA.
Contents. Activities of the Works Progress Administration (now Work Projects Administration), and work being done on various types of projects.

In the opening sequence, workingmen are shown as the commentator explains why the Works Progress Administration came into existence and something of its plan of work.

The first activities presented are those of road construction. Without an attempt to give information as to processes, general scenes of road construction operations are shown. The commentator explains the need for secondary roads from farm to market as muddy rural road conditions are pictured. The use of local raw materials is suggested in a short scene of quarry operations. Views of graveling operations are shown, and the commentator refers to roads that are being built at centers of attraction for tourists.

The work of the Works Progress Administration in improving city water-supply systems is indicated by scenes of reservoir construction at Atlantic City. The commentator explains that there exists a large group of projects to provide facilities for public gatherings, and there is a short scene of construction work on a community stadium. General scenes show improvements being made at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and construction work on bridges and sewers. The commentator says that there is need for better airport facilities, and the film shows WPA work in building and improving airports. There are scenes of airport construction at Newark, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Scenes of buildings being torn down are accompanied by explanations concerning slum clearance work.

Reel 2 deals with white-collar jobs. Work in the traffic survey is suggested as men are shown making traffic counts. Work to decrease automobile accidents is indicated by views of a girl taking a driving test and WPA workers testing cars. Sewing projects are explained by the commentator as women are shown cutting and sewing garments. Activities in dress designing and textile weaving are shown. As women are pictured working in a kitchen, the commentator says that school lunches are prepared for undernourished children of needy families. A traveling library is shown as the commentator describes the extent of this kind of work. Public nursing projects are presented in a few scenes of nurses examining babies. Braille maps and books are prepared for the blind. Victims of trachoma, a dread eye disease, are taken to a clinic for treatment. In a therapeutic pool for infantile paralysis victims, an attendant aids a child to exercise his crippled muscles. Children are shown eating, playing, and sleeping at a WPA nursery. Adult education activities are shown in a class where foreign-born men and women are learning to read and write English. Vocational training is offered in a millinery class, a tailoring class, and a household arts class. As the commentator explains that the Works Progress Administration cooperates with the National Youth Administration in providing work for young people, girls are shown canning fruit and boys are shown restocking fishing grounds.

Reel 3 presents the work of the theater and art projects. A WPA orchestra is playing a concert. A Negro choir sings. Work in painting is indicated as an artist is shown at work. The murals on the mess hall at West Point and a stained-glass window at the same institution indicate another phase of the work. A commemorative tablet is shown as the commentator tells of the work in sculpturing. Fine work done for museums is depicted by scenes of work on the reconstruction of a Persian ceiling and the mounting of fossils and animal skeletons. The Federal Theatre Project is represented by short scenes from Pinafore, It Can't Happen Here, and the all-Negro production of Macbeth.

Reel 4 deals with the work of the Works Progress Administration in times of disaster. As flood devastated areas are shown, the commentator explains the activities of the WPA in such emergencies. Women and children are rescued from rising waters. Food distribution and hospital work are shown. Men carry sandbags and other materials to be used to raise the levees above the crest of the flood waters. Harry Hopkins inspects levee work. Men are shown clearing up the debris left by the flood. Workers on WPA are shown distributing food and administering medical care to victims of the dust storms. As roadbuilding operations are shown, the commentator explains that this work provides employment for farmers deprived of a livelihood. Dams are constructed to correct drought conditions. Scenes of a forest fire and of WPA workers fighting fire are shown.

Reel 5 shows work in constructing, improving, and maintaining recreational facilities, parks, and places of historic importance. Scenes at a zoo show children watching animals, and playground scenes show children playing on swings, slides, etc. Views of a swimming pool in which boys and girls are swimming and diving are accompanied by the explanation that WPA labor has been used in constructing pools and bathhouses. At a toy lending library a child selects a toy. Views of camp life, sleeping quarters, playgrounds, and a swimming hole illustrate efforts of the WPA in providing country camps for city children. Work in repairing and maintaining historic places is illustrated by scenes of the stockade at old Fort Niagara and of the reconstructed village of New Salem, Illinois.


Appraisal. Reported good for (1) showing the types of activities carried on by the Work Projects Administration, (2) indicating the relationship between the Work Projects Administration and the conservation of both human and natural resources of the nation, (3) developing insight into the governmental program of social and economic rehabilitation by means of the Work Projects Administration Found useful in promoting a sympathetic attitude toward the WPA and in developing the concept that the government must step in to protect the health and future of its citizens when private enterprise fails.

Teachers reported that students were surprised at the wide range of activities carried on by the WPA. Some teachers regarded the film as propagandistic.

Photography and sound are good.
STOCK SHOTS: Building a roof on a commercial building; traffic surveys; driving simulation machine; automobile inspection stations; racially mixed groups of women sewing garments; traveling libraries in trucks; bathing babies; visiting nurses; making braille books and maps; reading braille; proofreading braille; pig falls off truck into mud; ditch digging; jackhammers; mule team pulling cart; men moving wet concrete along with hand shovels; building water mains; building of the Atlantic City water reservoir; construction at Newark Airport, Cleveland Airport, Detroit City Airport, Chicago [presumably Midway] airport, Philadelphia airport. Chopping down trees with hand axes. Demolition of slums. Road construction. Laying cobblestones. Setting dynamite. pushing plunger to ignite dynamite. Heavy earth-moving equipment. Truck sinking into the mud.



VOICEOVERS: "The Great Depression left millions of able and willing Americans bewildered and jobless. . . The dole was not enough; good sound men and women wanted to earn the help they got." "Women who are the principal support of their families are paid for their work. And the millions of garments they produce are distributed free to families on relief."
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Reviews

Reviewer: Spuzz - - September 25, 2005
Subject: Huzzah for the sculptors!
A big pat on the back for FDRs WPA program is shown here, featuring just about every single program the WPA helped. Ill admit, this film is a LOT of fun, because it shows a lot of stuff not seen in films elsewhere. Eg, the program helped Sculptors! Painters! Road makers! Ditch Diggers! Candle stick makers! And on and on. It also shows lots of shots of man hard hard at work doing this kind of thing, and also shows man, well, kids at play as well. I loved these scenes as they show not the least bit of safety for the kids. Look how high the slide is off the ground! Watch kids nearly go flying off on the play wheels! And for goodness sake, watch where your sliding into in the pool! (Love that scene!). This film IS 31 minutes, but jumps from one scene to another at a frenetic pace that it winds up a hoot to watch! Highly recommended!
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